Monthly Archives: November 2008

Digital Britain: a UK success story. Let’s not blow it!

The Government this week attempted tore-ignite the UK’s wavering economy, as well as give us all an early Christmas present. In its Pre-Budget Report to Parliament (a sort off pre-cursor to the real budget in March), it announced a ‘VAT holiday’ by cutting the tax we pay on the goods and services we buy from 17.5% to 15% for the next year. Whoopee.
What’s the significance of this to Digital Britain then? The significance is this: that even in a recession digital is driving the UK economy. We are still doing more, seeing more, playing more and spending more online. This was reflected in a recentOfcom international comparison study which found that the UK is the most advanced digital nation in the world. Here are some great stats from the report:

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Enabling customers to interact

Getting customers to respond to an ad isn’t easy, and getting them to interact can be even harder. Whatever your objectives, direct response or brand building,getting consumers toengage with your brand is vital.

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10 reasons why i love entertainment blogs (or maybe 10 reasons why i should get out more)

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a BIG fan of celebrity.In fact it’s pretty safe to say that I have very few other interests. That’s why the proliferation of entertainment and celebrity focused-blogs have been a godsend for me, and to be honest there’s very little else I look at online. Normally this is just for my own reading pleasure, however yesterday I saw a video on the Perez Hilton site (featuring the man himself) giving his take on the recent US Weekly exclusive surrounding the apparent elopement of Heidi Montag and SpencerPratt(both stars of US faux reality show ‘The Hills’). Perez pointed out that thanks to online, for the offline magazine world there is now nosuch thing as ‘breaking news’ and therefore the print versions of celebrity magazines are having a tougher time than ever to maintain their interest and provide their readers with new information. And now paid-for, exclusives,seemingly stagedstories –such as the Montag and Pratt affair – are the result. Such a thought-provoking video (for me, anyway!) made me realise what a massive impact such blogs have had on media (and marketing) in general. So, after giving it a bit more thought, I’ve found10 big reasons why I love entertainment blogs, such as the aforementioned Perez Hilton, Holy Moly, FilmDrunk, MrPaparazzi, Dlisted, Heatworld (the blogroll goes on…)

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The bank of the future

Does anyone remember London in 1966? Apparently something big happened in the world of football. More importantly – for a Scotsman at least – Barclays unveiled the world’s first digital ATM (the technology was rolled out to the public in 1967 and opened by the now sadly deceased Reg Varney). In the same year the bank also developed the Barclaycard, the world’s first credit card.

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"A great democratising force"

These are the words of Andrew Walmsley, co-founder of digital agency i-level, speaking about the internetat an IAB sponsored debate at the House of Commons last Monday evening. The motion for discussion was “online advertising compromises privacy” and you can read a summary of the debate here.
Andrew’s words could not ring truer. He set out his argument by outlining the business model behind this “force”: advertising. Advertising on the internet funds the mass of information and entertainment we enjoy, the “oceans of creativity” (to quote the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Andy Burnham), and the services we all use everyday, from email to social networking sites. We share views, ideas, preferencesand experiences with each other. It is a democratic adventure. This may all sound a bit obvious to Brand Republic readers but, believe me, its not for many, including the very people who makes rules and regulations about the online world. This is why the IAB has embarked upon a specific programme to help the civil service layer of government develop a better understanding of online and its benefits. It’s a complex beast and we need this audience to ‘get it’.
Privacy is probably the biggest issues facing the online world at the moment and its certainly at the top of the list of discussions that we’re having withour friendsin government. It is critical that – we, the industry – get this right if we are to continue to enjoy the delights of the internet (see Kieron Matthews’ entertaining ‘beer and presents’ blog). A failure to do this may mean we face the possibility of returning (worse still, being forced to return) to – using once again the fine words of Andrew Walmsley – the “Amish internet”.
The motion was overwhemingly defeated.

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Editor’s blog: Innocent’s Tasty Pot to bring in the cash?

I’ve always rather admired Innocent. I know they’re horribly over-exposed, and I suspect that beneath every halo must lie some darker truths. But MT has a lot of affection for them, not least because we wrote one of the first articles about the company way back in 2000. And – althought the credit crunch has reportedly set them looking for a new investor – I think they are well placed to do well in the downturn.

I have an abiding memory of Richard Reed’s appearance at a round-table discussion we did at Claridges years back on people management. The table was filled with plenty of suits, including Digby Jones. Richard was late, finally striding in wearing a cheesecloth shirt that was slashed open to the waist, some baggy linen pants and flip flops (I swear fellow-diner Ruth Spelman, then of Investors In People, nearly swooned).

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Last night I went shopping with a pint of Stella!

By the time Hammy had been played with, Amelie was out of her Rainbows uniform and my wife had finished erecting a Playmobil fort for my son Oscar it was pushing on for 8.30pm. With Stephen Fry in the USA playing in the background, my wife and I decided to go shopping. Now there aren’t many shops open at that time of night in my home town of Weetabix (Burton Latimer), so of course we went online. For an hour we traded ideas about what we should get the kids for Christmas all in the comfort of our armchairs, on our own laptops while I enjoyed a nice cold Stella and my wife sipped a glass of red. I set up a wish list for Oscar on Amazon populated with Storm Hawks and Hot Wheels sets, though I intend to slip in a few Clone Wars toys on today (for my own parental pleasure).

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Can we meet the Government’s challenge?

Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, has set the online industry a challenge. In a keynote speech to the IAB’s flagship Engage event yesterday afternoon, Burnham said that the Government was fully behind the UK online advertising industry and would do all it could to maintain it as a world leader.

But he also stressed the importance of ensuring that safeguards are in place to enable users – particularly children– to successfully navigate and feel comfortable in the online world. For the online world, Burnham said that – unlike other areas of life – hethought the“stakes in the ground are not quite there yet, that is something we need to address together”.

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Editor’s blog: No cause for schadenfreude

So, the Germans have drifted into recession: the Federal Statistics office says that German GDP contracted 0.5% in the third quarter, after a 0.4% fall in the second. But before we all get overwhelmed with a sense of schadenfreude, it might be sensible to remember a few vital statistics:

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Editor’s blog: The City’s Oedipus complex

To the National Theatre to see Ralph Fiennes as Oedipus. This is one of London’s hottest tickets, but it goes without saying that the evening is no barrel of laughs. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could turn Oedipus into a feel-good production – the play is, after all, the tale of a man who unwittingly kills his dad, shacks up with his mother (producing four children) and then when he discovers the error of his ways puts his own eyes out and is banished. Nevertheless, I’d thoroughly recommend you seek out a ticket: you come out feeling thoroughly purged, as was the intention of Sophocles when he wrote it two and a half thousand years ago. He knew the value of catharsis.

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